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Forest Resilience for the Southern Amazon: Managing the Agricultural Frontier


Due to climate change, the dry-season length has increased over southern Amazonia since 1979, resulting in a prolonged fire season. Major droughts in 2005 and 2010 significantly damaged the southern portion of the Amazon forest in Brazil and elevated fire-induced tree mortality in as much as 12% of the southeastern Amazon forests. These results suggest that feedbacks between fires and extreme climatic conditions could increase the likelihood of an Amazon forest “dieback” in the near-term. In addition, a recent study of human impacts on the integrity of the Amazon forest reported that a combination of selective logging and wildfires turns primary forests into a thick scrub full of smaller trees and vines, which not only stores 40% less carbon than undisturbed forests, but is also more susceptible to fires from adjacent farms and pasturelands than pristine forest. Forests are also under threat from the conversion to agriculture, particularly at the Cerrado margin, which has seen the largest expansion of medium and large farms, often linked to dynamic external markets.


The development objective of this proposal is to provide guidance to key local and national stakeholders on the design of policies and measures with the aim of maintaining the resilience of the southern Amazon forest in the face of climate change, increasing forest degradation, fire risks and associated greenhouse gas emissions, and increased global demand for agricultural commodities.

In the short-term, this activity will improve stakeholders involved in policy-making and implementation understanding of the dynamics between forests, agriculture and climate change, and resulting forest degradation and fire risks in a fragile frontier by key. In the medium term, it is expected to feed into the policy cycle by (i) establishing a sound set of potential impacts under different scenarios; and (ii) providing the basis for informed dialogue around increasing the resilience impact of policies and measures in the land use sector under the National Climate Change Policy.

The activity is composed of three tasks:

  • Modeling of climate change, fire, forest degradation, and land use change dynamics in southern Amazonia. This will build on previous modeling work conducted by the World Bank in Brazil under the Low Carbon Country Case Study (Gouvello et al. 2010), namely SimBrasil and DINAMICA. The output will consist of a report outlining potential forest resilience impacts under different scenarios. The work will focus on the near to mid-term (2020) and complement the PROFOR supported study "Turn Down the Heat" that is focusing on medium- to long-term impacts (2030–2050).
  • Policy options for managing the agricultural frontier. The output will include a report with recommendations resulting from the dialogue.
  • Dissemination and knowledge exchange.


The simulations of future fire regimes indicate that the Southern Amazon is on the verge of a drastic tipping point from which the extent of areas burned in drought years may even double. This happens consistently in the four scenarios modeled after 2030, with and without deforestation. In other words, a temperature rise of just ≈1° relative to the current average (2010-2015) could trigger a series of large forest fires during the most severe droughts in the region. In those years, areas burned in the Southern Amazon could extend to over 3.6 million hectares, an increase of about 110% relative to the extent of the 2007 fires. In general, there is an increase in burned forest area from 17% to 41% after 2030 compared to 2002-2010. Although the results of the three models and four scenarios analyzed diverge from each other slightly, the trend is the same.

While the results of the simulations are inconclusive for years of normal rainfall, the advance of deforestation (at current rates) implies that an additional 7-16% of land will be burned between 2011-50 relative to scenarios with climate change alone. Although forest fragmentation plays an important role in facilitating fire spread, the results show that drought is the key determinant of the fire regime. This points to a virtually catastrophic effect of droughts powered by global warming, even in a scenario of robust climate change mitigation and a sharp reduction in deforestation rates.

In terms of geographic pattern, the southern Amazon is likely to be very heavily impacted, with some variation between the southeast and southwest depending on the different scenarios. In addition, high-intensity fires during droughts will be more extensive, implying higher mortality and consequent loss of forest biomass. From being a potential carbon sink, the Amazon forest will become a net source of carbon dioxide emissions, feeding back into global warming.

These dire warnings are crucial because they relate to an ecosystem of extremely high local, regional and global consequence. At the local and regional levels, fires in the Amazon are destroying valuable ecosystem services that communities depend on. The vast majority of agricultural production in Latin America depends on rain, meaning that disruptions to these systems will have profound negative impacts on livelihoods, jobs, health and nutrition, and wellbeing more generally. At the global level, it is very alarming that the Amazon forest may soon become a net emitter of carbon dioxide, rather than a potential carbon sink, contributing to climate change and further reducing the resilience of communities and ecosystems.

The final report identifies very feasible policy actions that can mitigate these negative impacts, including:

  • Investing in fire prevention and firefighting capacity;
  • Incentivizing alternative agricultual practices that are not based on fire; and
  • Better land use planning to align agricultural producers and aggregators.

Implementing such policies is critical to conserving forests and biodiversity, ensuring the availability of ecosystem services and keeping people out of poverty, and ultimately to achieving global targets like the World Bank twin goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Climate Agreement.

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Last Updated : 04-24-2018


Mechanisms to incentivize the re-establishment and scaling up of native species forest plantations in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil


Brazil’s Forest Code requires all private landowners to retain the original forest or woodland on 20% of their land to ensure the provision of ecosystem services. Over the years, however, due to poor enforcement of the law, most landowners have not kept adequate areas devoted to forest reserves ("Reserva Legal"). The New Forest Code (Law 12.651/2014) now allows the re-establishment of the forest reserve either on-farm or on other private and public lands that are currently degraded or under-utilized. In an effort to facilitate compliance, the new Forest Code also allows new generation forest plantations of native species that can be harvested, provided adequate attention is devoted to maintaining their ecosystem services (protection of watersheds and biological diversity).


The program consists of four elements:

  1. Review of the economic and financial analysis of the proposed models, carried out by the State Secretariat for Environment (Secretaria do Meio Ambiente, SMA) in Sao Paulo, jointly with the Institute for Forest Research and Studies (IPEF).
  2. Market study, which evaluates the market potential for key products considered under the replanting program by adapting the value chain approach already used under PROFOR.
  3. Design of financing instruments, based on the review of existing instruments and dialogue with financing institutions.
  4. Dissemination/Knowledge exchange which involves disseminating results of the study in three languages: Portuguese, English, and Spanish.


This activity is ongoing, to date. The following studies were completed:

(a) Assessing, validating, and adjusting, as needed, the analysis carried out on the economic viability of the proposed sustainable forest management (SFM) models 

(b) Assessing market potential for wood products (See attached report by Amantino Ramos de Freitas and summary by Maria Isabel Braga.)

(c) Evaluating existing studies and information, and implementing additional studies to fill existing information gaps, aiming at the elaboration of a business model for a multipurpose pilot forestry pole in the Paraíba do Sul River Basin

(d) Defining a research and development agenda based on what has already been done regarding forest restoration in the Mata Atlântica and Amazon biomes, and on an analysis of potential benefits based on the results of research already completed

Some key findings so far are:   

  • All studies agreed that returns of investments in native species plantations could be high. Yet the level of risk is so high that in practice it is rare to find significant scale investments in native species. The time required for native species to produce valuable timber is significantly longer than the two exotic species that are produced on a large scale in Brazil, Eucalyptus and Pinus. This long period to recuperate the investment generates risks that are difficult to overcome. Research and development, which can reduce risks and variability of performances, can contribute to mitigate such risks. In addition, it is important to increase the emphasis on non-timber products (like fruits, palm hearth, and so on), which can reduce the period required to recuperate the investment.   

  • Research and development (R&D) to scale up native species silviculture in Brazil. The study proved that, in some situations, planting native trees in Brazil can be a good yet risky business. 

  • The study identified 30 native species with higher potential for commercial production of timber (15 species from the Atlantic biome and 15 from the Amazonian biome). Specific gaps and priorities were identified in eight research areas: (i) seeds and seedlings, (ii) forestry breeding and improvement, (iii) wood technology, (iv) topo climatic zoning, (v) forestry management, (vi) vegetative propagation, (vii) market for wood products, and (viii) policy and legislation. 

  • The results have found that the cost to develop 30 species is around US$8 million over 20 years. The estimated results are as follows: (a) productivity to increase in the range of 25 percent in the short term and from 56 percent to 85 percent in the medium and long term, (b) forestry costs to decrease by 20 percent, and (c) round wood to lumber conversion rates from 20 percent to 40 percent in thinning, and from 40 percent to 50 percent in the final cut. Together, these three variables could possibly increase and impact IRR up by 5 percent, making forestry with native species viable in Brazil, with a risk adjusted return comparable to mainstream investments such as eucalyptus plantations.

  • For every US$1 dollar invested in R&D, there is an estimated gain of US$2.4 in benefits, with a necessary scale of at least 10,000 hectares to justify investments in R&D. In terms of scale, this means that US$8 million is needed for R&D plus US$100 million for forest assets (US$10,000 per hectare over 30 years). Based on the potential future market demand of tropical timber species, the study estimated a potential of more than 1 million hectares for silviculture with native species to meet future demand tropical lumber by the year 2050, corresponding to more than 10 percent of the Brazilian Nationally Determined Contribution target on restoration of degraded lands. The next step is to identify the specific interests of the multilateral agencies, public sector, private companies and financial sector to actually invest in such development program and native forestry plantation assets. 

These findings are informing a concept note for a new project proposal to the World Bank for implementation of commercially viable multi-purpose native tree forests.

More findings and results will be shared on this page when they become available.

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Last Updated : 06-07-2019


External Related Links

The Economics of Climate Change in LAC (2010)


web brasil_2030_portugues_0.pdf


A multidisciplinary and multi-agency team comprising leading experts from the Brazilian National Agricultural and Forestry Research Agency (EMBRAPA), the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Sao Paulo, the Brazilian Agency for Space Research (INPE), and the Brazilian Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE), a major think-tank.
Erick Fernandes, Adviser, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management, World Bank (Latin America and Caribbean), managed and oversaw the program.

Impacts of Climate Change on Rural Landscapes in Brazil

There is growing concern that Brazilian agriculture and forestry sectors are increasingly vulnerable to climate variability and change (eg. a decline in productivity of subsistence crops in northeastern Brazil; increased risk of fire and Amazonian forest dieback). To meet development, food security, climate adaptation and mitigation, and trade goals over the next several decades, Brazil will need to significantly increase per area productivity of food and pasture systems in central and southern Brazil while simultaneously reducing deforestation, rehabilitating millions of hectares of degraded land for cropping and forest plantations in the Amazon, the cerrado, the Atlantic forest, and the Pampas.

However, because of previous climate modeling and data limitations, there was still significant uncertainty associated with the projections for Amazonian rainfall (timing, seasonality) as well as the magnitude and locations of climate impacts in Brazil over the next 50 years. Improved climate change impact assessments were urgently needed to guide policy makers on priorities, geographical targeting (hot spots), and phasing of investments for adataptation and mitigation to climate change.

This activity implemented by the World Bank in partnership with leading Brazilian agencies and supported by PROFOR focused on establishing a robust and integrated decision and policy support framework that could empower Brazil’s policy makers and the agricultural sector to undertake the adaptation necessary to cope with projected climate change.

Its objectives were:

  • 1.To refine the available climate change projections for Brazil via the coupling of global, regional, and local scale modeling currently being tested by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil and the regional climate program for South America (CREAS).
  • 2. To integrate the INPE and CREAS suite of tested global (300 km horizontal resolution) and regional models (50 km horizontal resolution) with the state of the art Brazilian developments in Regional Atmospheric Model (BRAMS) that incorporates aerosol and land cover/deforestation/burning feedbacks for much improved local weather and climate (especially rainfall) projections.
  • 3. To make the Brazilian Agro-Eco Zoning Model that is currently used by the Central Bank of Brazil for rural credit programs "climate-smart" by integrating the high resolution climate projection outputs from 1 and 2.
  • 4. To make the existing Brazilian Land Use Model (BLUM) climate-sensitive by coupling it with the outputs described above to assess: (a) Climate change induced changes in supply and demand of agricultural commodities at a national level, (b) Changes on the distribution of land use and production (agriculture, forestry, pasture) in Brazil for given supply and demand scenarios, and (c) Economic effects on agricultural and forestry production and profitability.

Projections for land use and forest land cover change, and an assessment of the distribution of land use and production were undertaken. Specifically, previous climate change projections were refined using a global, regional and local scale modeling; Regional Climate Change Scenarios for South America (CREAS) were used for regional and sectoral impact assessments; the Agro Climatic Risk and Vulnerability Zoning Model developed by EMBRAPA and UNICAMP was refined; soils were classified and cropping areas that are less vulnerable to climate change impacts were identified based on temperature effects through 2020 and 2030. A final report, in English and Portuguese, is forthcoming.

The study showed that while for some crops (soybean and cotton) the projected negative climate impacts to 2020 are likely to be more moderate than previously projected, for other crops (beans and corn), however, the impacts could be significantly more severe than projected in previous studies. All the climate change scenarios simulated in this study resulted in a reduction of ‘low risk’ cropland area in 2020 and 2030.

More specifically, the findings suggested that the South Region of Brazil, currently an agricultural powerhouse, could potentially lose up to 5 million hectares (ha) of its highly suitable agricultural land due to climate change, while Brazil as a whole could have around 11 million ha less of highly suitable agricultural land by 2030. The findings of this study are being incorporated by EMBRAPA into the EMBRAPA/UNICAMP Agroecozone Model to improve the climate projections that underpin the national rural credit and insurance programs in Brazil.

Read the report in Portuguese.

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For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : A multidisciplinary and multi-agency team comprising leading experts from the Brazilian National Agricultural and Forestry Research Agency (EMBRAPA), the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Sao Paulo, the Brazilian Agency for Space Research (INPE), and the Brazilian Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE), a major think-tank. Erick Fernandes, Adviser, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management, World Bank (Latin America and Caribbean), managed and oversaw the program.
Last Updated : 02-24-2017

Brazil: Scaling up Renewable Charcoal Production

Charcoal is one of the main sources of energy used in the production of pig iron for steel in Brazil. The vast majority of the current charcoal production is from unsustainable and often illegal harvest of native forests, leading to severe environmental degradation and deforestation. However, there have been successful business cases of forest plantation for charcoal production in Brazil, including one Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project financed by the Prototype Carbon Fund in Minas Gerais. Expanding the area of forest plantations for charcoal on idle or degraded pasture land would reduce the pressure on native forests in Brazil.

However, barriers have prevented wide adoption of forest plantations for charcoal. Some of the barriers include:

  • lack of credit to finance the initial production costs (first income revenue usually is generated after 7 years of plantation),
  • difficult access to credit (forest plantations are often not accepted as collateral for loans),
  • higher transaction costs relative to deforestation and coal production (planted forest activity has a cycle of 14-21 years of production, is labor intensive, and results in high costs of land management and environmental licensing),
  • inefficient technologies for carbonization process (contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), including methane),
  • unclear agricultural and environmental regulatory framework to forest production,
  • weak institutional arrangements, etc. 

With 62 pig iron mills, the state of Minais Gerais is Brazil's largest producer of steel and iron, responsible for 60% of the national production.  Minas Gerais approved a law which virtually bans the use of charcoal from deforestation by 2018. In order to supply the industry with charcoal from plantations Minais Gerais would need about 1.5 million ha under new plantations.

PROFOR and the BioCarbon Fund co-financed a study designed to identify institutional and financial arrangements required to mainstream forest plantation business models and promote the potential development of CDM projects aimed at reducing GHG emissions in the forestry and iron supply chains in the state of Minas Gerais.

The displacement of non-renewable charcoal by renewable charcoal by 2017 and the use of charcoal to produce up to 46% of the pig iron and steel by 2030, would potentially mitigate 62 Mt of CO2 between 2010 and 2030. This would represent 31% of all emissions reductions expected from the steel industry and contribute to Brazil's overall effort to reduce its GHG emissions by 39% by 2020.

The study's methodology and preliminary results were presented during a workshop "Identifying Financial and Institutional Arrangements for Scaling Up Renewable Charcoal Production" in Belo Horinzonte, Minas Gerais, in December 5, 2011. (A presentation from that workshop is available in Portuguese on this page). At completion, final reports with the technical work, datasets, and related links were shared with key counterparts within the government, private sector, and financial institutions.

The analytical work supported by this project was a key building block in the World Bank’s strategy for supporting Brazil’s move toward a low carbon economy as stated in the Brazil Country Partnership Strategy for 2012-2015, under Objective 4: Improving sustainable natural resource management and climate resilience. ("Helping the Federal government and the private sector to implement Brazil’s National Climate Change Plan, including through developing programs and financial mechanisms to promote sustainable land use, decrease deforestation, and increase energy efficiency and renewable energy.")

The Minas Gerais Development Policy Loan III ( P121590), to which this study contributed, is one of the deliverables of the new country strategy. The State has adopted measures to encourage forest plantation within its territory to supply raw input to industries within its territory.

For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : World Bank in Brazil [1], BioCarbon Fund [2] [1] [2]
Last Updated : 02-24-2017






Report on SIA Case Studies for PROFOR_0.pdf

Annex 1 Surui Carbon Project SIA Case Study 2011_small_0.pdf

Annex 2. GuateCarbon, Guatemala SIA Case Study 2011 Edited_small_0.pdf

Annex 3. CCAH, Peru SIA Case Study 2011_small_0.pdf


Authors: Forest Trends' Michael Richards and Steve Panfil with key inputs by Nigel Pitman, Steven Price, Natasha Calderwood and Julie Fischer.
Partners: Forest Trends and CCBA, with Rainforest Alliance and Fauna & Flora International (FFI).
Sponsors: PROFOR, Morgan Stanley, USAID-TransLinks, GEF-UNDP, Rockfeller Foundation and NORAD provided financial support.

Social Impact Assessment of Forest Carbon Projects (toolkit)

Are land-based carbon projects good for local people?

Many rural communities are keen to embark on carbon projects as a way of generating income, jobs, and other social benefits. Offset buyers are also attracted to the idea of reducing emissions and simultaneously helping local people. Others are wary that these projects may do more harm than good. However, until recently, there was no clear methodological guidance for carbon project developers to track social and biodiversity impacts. The combination of robust standards for assessing the social performance of projects, and the use of credible methods of social impact assessment could help ensure positive outcomes for local people.

The emphasis in the early years of the carbon markets has been mainly on assuring the integrity of project emission reductions; co-benefits have received much less attention. But the balance is changing, and there are justifiable concerns that co-benefits must, like carbon, be real, ‘additional’ and, as far as possible, measurable. This is partly necessary for market confidence as offset buyers increasingly seek evidence that they are getting what they pay for, including co-benefits. On ethical or equity grounds, carbon projects must at the very least ‘do no harm’ (See related IIED conclusions on REDD+ in the miombo drylands.)  

A cost-effective and credible impact assessment toolbox would help carbon project developers meet the verification requirements of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards and contribute to building more robust, sustainable projects.

In response to such issues, Forest Trends has formed an alliance with three other NGOs – the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), Rainforest Alliance, and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) – to produce a user-friendly Manual for project proponents on how to conduct cost-effective and credible social impact assessment. Support for this project comes from PROFOR, Morgan Stanley, NORAD, GEF-UNDP, and USAID-Translinks.

The manual is intended for carbon offset project designers and implementers who are not specialists in monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

The Manual was field-tested in 2010 in Brazil, Guatemala and Peru. 

Forest Trends released a first version of its manual in June 2010, proceeded to test it in the field (see case studies listed on this page) and solicited feedback. A second version, which integrated biodiversity concerns as well, was released in the fall of 2011 in three parts: a core guidance document and two toolkits (for social and bioversity impact assessments). 

Guidance to project developers has been provided by regional training workshops held in Peru (June 2010), Tanzania (October 2010), Kenya (August 2011 with GEF-UNDP funding) and DRC (September 2011 with USAID-Translinks funding).  This has resulted in training of approximately 80 terrestrial carbon project developers and other REDD+ stakeholders from about 10 countries.  These workshops involved hands-on training using ‘real’ REDD+ projects as case studies over a period of 3-4 days.

In Tanzania, the Tropical Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) REDD project in Lindi District has undertaken a large scale SIA exercise in 2011 following their participation in the SIA Training workshop in Zanzibar in October 2010.

Experience during field testing and further training in social impact assessment shows that the benefits of using the ‘theory of change’ approach to impact assessment go well beyond the generation of a credible social monitoring plan which can meet the CCB or other multiple benefit standards. These wider benefits include: strategic project design necessary for achieving social and biodiversity objectives (clear objectives are essential for identifying monitoring indicators); participation of project stakeholders; promotion of adaptive project management; and the ease of understanding and explaining the results to a range of stakeholders.

Keys to better participation of local stakeholders include the quality of the ‘focal issue working group’ facilitators (so the latter need to be more carefully selected and trained); some prior training or exposure for community participants; the use of a ‘practice activity’ to develop good practice consultation skills; and various issues around the more effective participation of local stakeholders, especially women.

Based partly on the costs in the three case studies, the authors estimate that the cost of generating a credible social monitoring plan using their approach will be in the range $25,000-35,000 depending on various factors.

For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : Authors: Forest Trends' Michael Richards and Steve Panfil with key inputs by Nigel Pitman, Steven Price, Natasha Calderwood and Julie Fischer. Partners: Forest Trends [1] and CCBA [2], with Rainforest Alliance and [3]Fauna & Flora International [4] (FFI). Sponsors: PROFOR, Morgan Stanley, USAID-TransLinks, GEF-UNDP, Rockfeller Foundation and NORAD provided financial support. [1] [2] [3] [4]
Last Updated : 02-24-2017


Related Links

ESMAP's Low Carbon Development Country Studies

External Related Links

Brazil Can Take the Lead in Green Growth, says World Bank (feature story, June 28, 2010)


Energy Sector Management Assistance Program ESMAP 

The Role of Forestry in Low-carbon Growth Strategies


Many developing countries are proactively seeking to identify opportunities and related financial, technical, and policy requirements to move towards "green growth" on a low-carbon path. With the support of ESMAP, the multi-donor Enegery Sector Management Assistance Program hosted at the World Bank, selected pilot countries have initiated country-specific studies to assess their development goals and priorities, in conjunction with GHG mitigation opportunities, and examine the additional costs and benefits of lower carbon growth. For some of these pilot countries, addressing issues in the forest and land-use sector play an important role for developing low-carbon growth strategies. Because results have been provided until now in an aggregate manner, a detailed analysis of the forestry and land-use sector have not been separately presented. However, such an analysis would provide important information and guidance to develop low-carbon growth strategies for many other countries where forestry and land-use change are key GHG emissions sources. Such knowledge will be especially important for guiding work in developing countries financed by the World Bank, one of the most important implementing institutions of new programs promoting sustainable forest management for GHG mitigation (FCPF, FIP, BioCF, UN-REDD, etc.)


PROFOR will finance ESMAP's effort to produce a policy brief analyzing the role of forests and forest management for developing and implementing low-carbon growth strategies, including financing options related to low-carbon growth.  While the policy brief will build on experience and data analyses already undertaken in key pilot countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil), they will provide general guidance on the integration of forestry in low-carbon growth strategies beyond the case study examples.

The policy brief is expected to serve decision makers and World Bank operations "task team leaders" in developing and implementing forestry-based low-carbon growth strategies for countries with significant GHG emissions from the forestry sector.


This activity is ongoing. Results will be shared on this page when they become available.

For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : Energy Sector Management Assistance Program ESMAP  [1] [1]
Last Updated : 02-14-2018





Malcolm Childress, Senior Land Administration Specialist at the World Bank

Examining Land Management Policies in the Brazilian Amazon


There is enough land in the Amazon region to satisfy Brazilian society's demands for economic development, environmental management of a resource base of global importance and the challenges of agrarian reform. Yet Brazil has been unable to create a fully coherent and manageable land policy and administration system for the region which permits sustainable development goals to be achieved while reconciling special interests and uses. Instead, resource waste, private appropriation of the public domain and social conflict have characterized land relations in the region.

As the region becomes increasingly accessible for a variety of economic activities, and more central to Brazil's economy, the resolution of the land questions looms large as a foundational element for reconciling and ordering economic development, resource management and social priorities. A better understanding of the dynamics of land grabbing and land speculation as well as of the impact of current policies and of the institutions mandated to implement them could help to influence and design new policies to better manage the race for property rights in the Amazon.


Along with other donors, PROFOR helped finance a study focusing on land management policies in the Brazilian Amazon. The study was conducted by Malcolm Childress, Senior Land Administration Specialist at the World Bank.


The study revealed that large-scale users, agrarian reformists, conservation interests, and others are racing to claim property rights in the Amazon. With illegal occupation, fraudulent and inconsistent land records, and flawed land laws, the resulting land administration is chaotic. Some actions have begun to bring more order to land administration. An effort to re-inspect and document land records, called recadastre, has uncovered illegal occupation, but is incomplete. Creation of new protected areas has slowed illegal occupation, however these areas still face threats of encroachment. And other factors contribute to the problem: the federal budget process gives land administration low priority and inconsistent support, with predictable results.

The study suggested the creation of a new social and political pact to reform land administration. The reformed system of administration would seek to reclaim illegally occupied lands, rationally identify and allocate lands suitable for agrarian reform, recognize and regularize rights of good-faith occupiers, and expand and consolidate protected areas. The pact would lead to local agreements among a broad range of interest groups and officials, backed by federal enforcement. The goal would be a fair, transparent, and workable allocation, recorded in a multipurpose land information system.


Some of the study's recommendations were reflected in a land regularization program which has brought more order in the Amazon.


For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : Malcolm Childress, Senior Land Administration Specialist at the World Bank
Last Updated : 02-24-2017







Jesse C. Ribot, World Resources Institute

Building Local Democracy Through Natural Resources Interventions

Building Local Democracy Through Natural Resource Interventions -- An Environmentalist's Responsibility


Through 17 institutional choice case studies funded by PROFOR, the World Resources Institute (WRI) explored the democratizing effects of ‘decentralization’ reforms and projects in forestry in Benin, Botswana, Brazil, China, India, Nicaragua, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia.


The findings concluded that institutional choice shapes local democracy—hence, it could be a local democracy tool. Choices of local partners would influence the formation and consolidation of local democracy by affecting representation, citizenship, and the public domain. Natural resource, including forestry, and management interventions could be structured to build the many facets of local democracy. To support local democracy while conducting local-level environmental interventions, the research recommends the following actions:

  • Choose democracy: Choose to place public decisions with decision makers who are accountable and responsive to the local citizens. Where democratic local government does not exist, work to establish and enable local democracy.
  • Build the public domain: Work to create a set of public powers directly or indirectly under the jurisdiction of elected local authorities. These powers make elected authorities worth engaging by enabling them to be responsive to local needs and aspirations. They constitute what we call ‘the public domain’, e.g. the space of public interaction that constitutes the space of democracy.
  • Build citizenship: Support the right and provide the means for local people to influence the authorities that govern them—channels of communication and recourse. Inform citizens of the powers and obligations their representatives have and of the means available to citizens for holding their leaders accountable.
  • Promote equity: Systematically partner with local organizations representing all classes—with an emphasis on organizations of the poor. Level the playing field through policies that affirmatively favor the poor, women and marginalized groups.
  • Enable local representatives to exercise their rights as public decision makers: Create safe means for representative local authorities to sanction and demand resources from and take recourse against line ministries and other intervening agencies so they are able to exercise their role as local representatives.
  • Help local governments to engage in collective bargaining for laws that favor the populations they govern: Enable local governments to bargain collectively with central government to ensure they are granted the rights they need to manage their forest and to insure that the rights they have been granted in law are transferred to them in practice. Facilitate representation of rural needs and aspirations in national legislatures. 
  • Harness elite capture: Elite capture is pervasive if not inevitable. Enable the people to capture the elite who capture power. Assure that elites who rule are systematically held accountable to the majority and to the poor, and marginal populations through all of the above means. This is democracy.

Working Papers from Institutional Choice and Recognition project (closed in 2008):

  • WORKING PAPER #19 (French). Le quota est mort, vive le quota! Ou les vicisitudes de la réglementation de l’exploitation du charbon de bois au Senegal. El Hadji Dialigué Bâ. February 2006.
  • WORKING PAPER #20 (French). Décentralisation, pluralisme institutionnel et démocratie locale: Étude de cas de la gestion du massif forestier Missirah Kothiary. Papa Faye. February 2006.
  • WORKING PAPER #21 (French). Décentralisation sans représentation: le charbon de bois entre les collectivités locales et l’Etat. Ahmadou M. Kanté. February 2006.
  • WORKING PAPER #23. Accountability in Decentralization and the Democratic Context: Theory and Evidence from India. Ashwini Chhatre. January 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #24. Institutional Choice and Recognition: Effects on the Formation and Consolidation of Local Democracy, Minutes of a Comparative Policy Research Workshop. Rapportuers: Bradley L. Kinder, Nathaniel Gerhart, and Anjali Bhat. December 2006.
  • WORKING PAPER #25 (French). La réglementation de la filière du charbon de bois à l’épreuve de la décentralisation: entre discours, lois et pratiques. El Hadji Diaigué Bâ. February 2006.
  • WORKING PAPER #26. Enclosing the Local for the Global Commons: Community Land Rights in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. Marja Spierenburg, Conrad Steenkamp, and Harry Wels. August 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #27. Indigenous Peoples, Representation and Citizenship in Guatemalan Forestry. Anne M. Larson. August 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #28. Dilemmas of Democratic Decentralization in Mangochi District, Malawi: Interest and Mistrust in Fisheries Management. Mafaniso Hara. August 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #29. Undermining Grassland Management Through Centralized Environmental Policies in Inner Mongolia. Wang Xiaoyi. August 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #30. ‘Fragmented Belonging’ on Russia’s Western Frontier and Local Government Development in Karelia. Tomila Lankina. August 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #31. Engendering Exclusion in Senegal’s Democratic Decentralization: Subordinating Women through Participatory Natural Resource Management. Solange Bandiaky. October 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #32. Party Politics, Social Movements, and Local Democracy: Institutional Choices in the Brazilian Amazon. Fabiano Toni. October 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #33. State Building and Local Democracy in Benin: Two Cases of Decentralized Forest Management. Roch Mongbo. October 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #34. Institutional Choices in the Shadow of History: Decentralization in Indonesia. Takeshi Ito. December 2007.
  • WORKING PAPER #35. Institutional Choice and Recognition: Effects on the Formation and Consolidation of Local Democracy Program. Jesse C. Ribot, Ashwini Chhatre, Tomila V. Lankina. January 2008.
  • WORKING PAPER #36. Authority over Forests: Negotiating Democratic Decentralization in Senegal. Jesse Ribot. January 2008.
  • WORKING PAPER #36 (French) Non-décentralisation Démocratique au Sénégal : Le Non-transfert de L’autorité sur les Forêts. Jesse C. Ribot. January 2008.


For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : Jesse C. Ribot, World Resources Institute  
Last Updated : 02-24-2017


Related Links

Justice in the Forest: Rural Livelihoods and Forest Law Enforcement

Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate


A CIFOR publication supported by PROFOR

Justice in the Forests - Rural Livelihoods and Forest Law Enforcement


Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) has been justified as a way of benefiting the poor by improving state revenues from forests, but the direct social impacts have not been given much attention.


To help develop a better understanding of these impact, PROFOR supported a CIFOR review of community experiences in Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Honduras, Indonesia and Nicaragua. The final product of this work is the publication Justice in the Forest: Rural Livelihoods and Forest Law Enforcement.


The results of the review show how the extent of forest-based livelihoods is often under-appreciated. The laws that affect the way people use forests are often contradictory and restrict livelihoods. Moreover, laws tend to be selectively developed and applied in favour of large-scale forestry, while laws which secure community rights in forests are commonly absent, ignored or too onerous to be widely used.

Lack of adequate legal protection of community rights makes much small-scale forest use 'illegal'. Illegal forest use, including by communities, tends to be enmeshed in wider political economies, so major players tend to be politically protected while local communities are vulnerable. Enforcement has sometimes focused narrowly on forestry laws to the neglect of laws that secure rural livelihoods.

Crude enforcement measures have reinforced social exclusion and tended to target poor people while avoiding those who are well connected. Trade-based FLEG measures may also ignore the social implications.

The study recommends future FLEG initiatives be developed in transparent ways, with broad civil society engagement. They should give special attention to the rural poor by addressing the full range of laws relating to forests, adopting rights-based approaches and promoting legal reform, rule of law and access to justice.

For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : A CIFOR publication supported by PROFOR
Last Updated : 05-20-2020

Reforming Forest Fiscal Systems


An active debate on concession policies and forest fiscal systems has taken place for a number of years. Several countries, encompassing a diverse range of forest types and associated industries, are implementing or considering new approaches to allocating rights to utilize forests. While their situations are different, in all cases the objective is to identify the practical ways to ensure that forests can be utilized sustainably and make a more positive contribution to national poverty reduction objectives (as defined in PRSPs or similar statement of policy) through stimulating growth and providing regular and enhanced revenue flows to governments.


In this context, the International Workshop on Reform of Forest Fiscal Systems took place October 19-21, 2003 at the World Bank in Washington DC. The workshop provided a valuable forum for frank discusion on the political economy of forest fiscal reform.


Over the course of the two-day workshop, participants discussed their experiences with such reform processes, focusing on lessons learned in how to manage the reform process and best practices for applying various forest fiscal instruments. Specifically, the Workshop focused on three key themes:

  • How to define the mix of fiscal instruments and set the right levels?
  • How to use revenues collected?
  • How to manage the politics of forest fiscal reform processes?

Read workshop proceedings for more detail.

The following year, on May 3, 2004, PROFOR organized a side event at UNFF-4 on reforming forest fiscal systems. Representatives from Ghana and Brazil delivered updates on fiscal reform in their countries since the October 2003 workshop.

For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Last Updated : 09-11-2017